Nearing the halfway point in their final season in the Expedition League, the defending champion Souris Valley Saber Dogs have produced a virtually flawless farewell tour, boasting 20 wins thus far and just one loss standing between them and a perfect record.
Returning to Corbett Field after a six-game road trip that saw them notch wins against every league rival, the Saber Dogs looked to extend their 16-game winning streak Tuesday night against the Pierre Trappers, along with their standings lead over the second-place Red River Pilots. Currently sitting at a jaw-dropping .952 win-loss percentage, Souris Valley is the only team above .500 in the league, with Red River, Pierre, and North Iowa all hovering within .03 of the .355 mark.
Continuing to showcase the juggernaut-like firepower of their offense during their past six games on the road, the Saber Dogs have outscored their opponents 61-11, effectively translating to six Souris Valley runs on average for every one run scored by their opponents during this stretch.
Defensively, the Saber Dogs only gave up more than one run in a contest twice over the span of the road-trip, both of which occurred at the hands of the North Iowa Ragin’ Roosters. Of the eleven total runs allowed during the past six games, seven were scored in the two aforementioned contests against North Iowa.
Heading into Tuesday’s match-up with the Pierre Trappers, the Saber Dogs entered the night with two prominent members of their team no longer on the active roster. Having inked deals with teams in the MLB-partnered Pioneer League, infielder Kamron Willman will join the Missoula Paddle Heads, while righty Jacob Wesselmann will join the pitching staff of the Grand Junction Rockies.
The opening day starter for Souris Valley, Wesselmann moves on from his tenure with the Saber Dogs having given up only nine hits over 21 innings. Across 74 batters faced on the season, Wesselmann collected 29 strikeouts while only allowing two earned runs, finishing with an ERA of 0.85 and winning all three of his starts.
With an upset their primary objective, the Trappers did what few have been able to accomplish this season by taking a rare lead over the Saber Dogs in the top of the third inning. In the process of Pierre going up 2-1, the crowd at Corbett Field witnessed first and second innings dominated primarily by impressive pitching and defensive performances for both teams that kept the score closer than normal for a typical Souris Valley outing this year.
However, the bottom of the fourth inning would see the offensive unit of the Saber Dogs quickly shift from neutral into overdrive.
Kicking off the charge would be catcher Ben Livorsi, whose RBI double would bring in second baseman Jake Barlow and knot the game at 2-2. A series of pitching miscues by the Trappers would eventually lead to a run scored by Livorsi on a wild pitch, followed by a line drive RBI double to left field by third baseman Alex Crouch to drive in center fielder Eddie Martinez and bring the lead to 4 -2.
While seeing the Saber Dogs capture the lead from the Trappers, the bottom of the fourth would also witness right fielder Hunter Delanoy capture something he was looking for of his own.
In perhaps the second biggest story-line of the season for Souris Valley other than their 20 total wins, Delanoy would connect on an RBI double to right field to bring his active hitting streak to 17 games, matching the total of what would ultimately become the Saber Dogs’ current win streak and building the lead to 5-2.
Customary to many Souris Valley contests this season, once the Saber Dogs smelled blood in the water, they wasted no time executing the insurmountable final blows, finishing off the Trappers with a barrage of runs in a 12-2 finish in eight innings.
Impressing on the mound, pitcher Brett Lorah earned his first win of the season, striking out 11 batters over seven innings while allowing two earned runs on four hits.
Souris Valley will look to make it 18 in-a-row tonight in another head-to-head with the Pierre Trappers at 6:35 pm at Corbett Field.